Often patients wonder what the difference between group and individual therapy is, and how they could benefit from group therapy. While both are valid and potentially helpful forms of therapy and can possibly have a similar outcome, the method of treatment involved with each is distinctly different.
Does Group Therapy Work?
During a group therapy session, individuals are able to relate to one another in a way that is different from, for example, the way that a patient would relate to a therapist or counselor; Group therapy is all about the peer to peer dynamic. Each member of the group is attending the session because they have a similar problem, they are able to share their experiences and gain knowledge about how the problems they share affect others in the group. In addition, solutions to these problems (and whether or not they worked) are often discussed. Many therapists, counselors, and patients believe that group therapy is one of the most, if not most, effective ways to treat addiction.
In a typical session, a ‘facilitator’ (usually a counselor or therapist) will pose questions for the participants and/or create an open a forum on a specific topic. These questions and topics are generally related to the problem at hand, addiction, but can at times extend to issues that in some way affect an individual’s recovery. For example, a common set of questions posed by group facilitators are: “Have you thought about using (your drug of choice) recently? And if so what actions have you taken when this happens?” Or, in an attempt to make those in the group aware of outside factors that may affect their recovery: “What has been on your mind recently? What seems to be stressing you out and how do you plan to resolve the issue.
12-step programs are generally very similar to group therapy. The group forum has proven itself as an effective therapeutic format, as millions of addicts and alcoholics have managed to gain control over the addiction through the use of 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous. Many believe that this is in part due to the way human beings function in a group of like-minded peers; sharing the problems that they have come across and relating to one another in a way that is not possible in a therapist to client relationship.